4 San Francisco Gallery Shows to See This Week


Four gallery exhibitions stand out this week in San Francisco; they present work in ink, of flowers, about time and wielding text. Of course, these single-word summations are grand oversimplifications that barely scratch the surface of how the eight artists in the Chinese Cultural Center’s Moment for Ink breathe new, contemporary and even non-Chinese life into a traditional medium, or how Canadian painter Graham Gillmore’s phrasing achieves such controversial edge. For that, read on, then see the shows yourself.

Moment for Ink: Shaking Off Tradition, at Chinese Culture Center

The traditional Chinese practice of ink-wash painting is generally thought to be a staid and culturally isolated one. Indeed, when the Chinese Culture Center’s artistic director, Abby Chen, raised the question to an auditorium of art school students in China, hardly a single one was able to name a non-Chinese artist with ties to the medium. 

The Moment for Ink: Shaking Off Tradition arrives not a moment too soon, then. The exhibition, curated by Ms. Chen, boldly undermines the notion of ink’s Western irrelevance by exposing the work of eight artists, many of whom are based outside of China and/or not of East Asian descent, who are doing fantastically innovative things with the age old form of pigment. Nigerian-born Toyin Odutola uses ballpoint pen to create gorgeous, indelible portraits. Stanford professor Xie Xiaoze uses ink to transcribe politically loaded newspaper photographs into massive scale, and CCA grad Jonathan Wallraven inks up the very walls of the CCC gallery, contending with the language of advertising. Don’t miss this show.

Moment for Ink: Shaking Off Tradition runs through May 18 at the Chinese Culture Center Gallery (750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor)

Click here to read about three additional not-to-be-missed gallery shows!

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